A Smarter Breed
Last week the ‘Tattoo Temple‘ application became available on the iTunes App Store. In contrast to the function specific and generally narrowly focused utility applications – Tattoo Temple Hong Kong took a more eclectic approach. Apart from their stunning artwork the app features a wide array of articles, guides, galleries, links, as well as streaming audio and video from a variety of sites across the globe. Looking through the heavily layered architecture, it is in fact more akin to a full featured website than a standard app. Although not perfect by any means, it is without question one of the first leaders in quality niche aggregation. It can be argued that acclimatization to search logic and recent mobile technology have generally constrained app development. The Tattoo Temple app both raises and answers the question: In what direction should mobile application development be heading?
Google has been at the forefront of search logic. Their emergent success can firstly be attributed to the cataloging and retrieval of information. Up to this point the web could be thought of as a laterally expanding collection of individual sites of information. Much like books strewn in a line across a field – access to and knowledge of a publication on the other side of the field required significant work. The Google cataloging system, relying on the users input, enabled the vertical tailoring of results. Lists of information, in descending order of calculated relevancy, could now be presented instantaneously. An undoubtedly ingenious system that redefined pinpointed access to a virtually endless supply of information. Their ever expanding array of additional features allow for greater accuracy within these results (i.e. time of publication, calculated reading level of text, country of publication and so on).
The reasonably communal openness of iPhone and iPad application development enables customized functionality. Accelerometers, personalized input and retrieval, multi-touch point functionality; these features on a similar scale were structural and logistical impossibilities for websites. Mobile technology allowed for a new branch of human-computer interaction. Customers personally shelf and file applications that suite their various requirements. The applications themselves are typically mirrored off the ‘individual site’ of information, or now entertainment, model of construction. The individual site logic characteristically being a single purpose, straight shot functionality. There is one application for viewing clothes on offer at a specific store. Another application allowing users to view works of art available in their city’s museum, and so on. To stick with the same print publication analogy, mobile applications allow a kind of ownership of feature rich pages torn from various books. The iTunes catalog is a Google-like presentation of individual albeit highly customized site specific functions.
The Google presentation of relevant information is abundant. Overly so. Terms and subjects can yield thousands to tens of millions of results. And in the same vein, applications used for nearly any purpose can yield tens to hundreds of results. The vertical tailoring of individual site functionality is an operation method now firmly established as the norm.
For web searches there are huge challenges in consistently presenting such vast quantities of information. Not only is an active internet connection required but varied bandwidth may also constrain access to feature rich sites. For a layman or non-expert the amount of research required to come across a selection of valuable, worthwhile sites can itself be prohibitive. Additionally, the ‘self defined’ storage methods of computers requires a second stage personal cataloging of all information kept. In application selection similar obstacles appear alongside the cluttering of the mobile desktops with a slew of applications each serving their single purpose.
Niche aggregation is the next stage of information presentation. Rather than hierarchical lists, experts in a variety of fields will bundle information into specific applications. The beauty of this logic is twofold:
1) Simplicity. Experts present their aggregation of information. This is data that they themselves find useful in their capacity as a practicing professional in any given field.
2) Speed. Quite apart from the time it would take to independently find the aggregation of information – loading times and storage are also curtailed as the information aggregation is downloaded once.
The Tattoo Temple application weighs in at roughly 22MB. And although there are numerous links to outside sites – the amount of information downloaded and readily accessible is impressive. In a highly diverse field such as art and design, the presentation of only one point of view would in essence be solipsistic. Tattoo Temple’s aggregation is perhaps setting the precedence for other industries or niche markets to follow. The principle of professional aggregation is the condensing of pertinent information. This model is surely the next stage not only for search logic but also application development.